Austin Texas Estate Planning Blog

What are the Pros and Cons of a Marital Trust

What are the Pros and Cons of a Marital Trust?

May 10, 2023 • | Law Office of Zachary D Kamykowski, PLLC
A marital trust is a complex estate planning tool that should be crafted carefully. Because of its tax benefits, you should work closely with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that the marital trust is established properly.


Forbes' recent article, "Guide to Marital Trusts," offers valuable insight into the numerous advantages of utilizing a marital trust in your estate planning strategy. However, it is crucial to understand both the pros and cons of establishing a marital trust. In this expanded blog post, we will dive deeper into the key benefits, potential drawbacks, and the essential components of a marital trust.

Pros of a Marital Trust

Doubling the Estate Tax Exemption Amount

One of the primary advantages of a marital trust is the ability to double the estate tax exemption amount to $24.12 million. As a couple, this means that you can shield twice the amount of your combined assets from being subject to federal estate tax, ensuring more of your wealth passes down to your loved ones.

Providing Income and Financial Stability to the Surviving Spouse

A marital trust can guarantee that the surviving spouse receives income and financial support after the grantor's death. The trust can be structured to provide a steady income stream, allowing the surviving spouse to maintain their standard of living without worry.

Keeping Assets within the Family

Transferring assets into a marital trust can help ensure your wealth remains within your family. This can be particularly important for blended families, as it allows you to protect your children's inheritance from being diverted to a new spouse or other family members.

Protecting Assets from Creditors and Potential New Spouses

A properly structured marital trust can protect your assets from creditors and potential new spouses. By placing assets in a trust, they are generally shielded from the reach of creditors and cannot be accessed by a new spouse in the event of remarriage.

Providing Financial Stability to Remaining Beneficiaries

Once the surviving spouse passes away, the remaining assets in the marital trust distribute to other beneficiaries, such as children or grandchildren. This ensures that your wealth is passed down to future generations and provides them with financial stability.

Cons of a Marital Trust


One of the main disadvantages of marital trusts is that they are irrevocable. Once established, it is challenging to dissolve or change the terms of the trust. This can be a downside for couples who may wish to alter their estate planning strategy later in life.

Limited Estate Tax Exemption

While a marital trust allows for a significant increase in the estate tax exemption amount, it is still capped at $24.12 million. For couples with substantial wealth, this may not be enough to shield all of their assets from estate tax liability.

Lengthy Process for Transferring Assets

Transferring assets into a marital trust can be a time-consuming and complex process. It may involve retitling property, working with attorneys, and dealing with other legal formalities. This can burden some couples who may prefer a more straightforward approach to estate planning.

Critical Components of a Marital Trust

When establishing a marital trust, it is essential to identify the key players involved:

Grantor: The person who creates the trust and transfers assets into it.

Trustee: The individual or institution responsible for managing the trust assets on behalf of the beneficiaries.

Beneficiaries: Those who will receive the benefits of the trust, such as income or inheritance.


In conclusion, a marital trust has some pros and cons. It can be a powerful estate planning tool to provide financial stability for your surviving spouse, protect your assets, and pass your wealth down to your intended beneficiaries. However, it is essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully, considering the irrevocability of the trust and the potential limitations on estate tax exemptions. As with any estate planning decision, it is crucial to consult with an experienced Austin estate planning attorney or financial advisor to determine if a marital trust is the right choice for your unique situation. By carefully considering your family's needs and financial goals, you can make informed decisions to protect and preserve your wealth for future generations.

Reference: Forbes (June 30, 2022) “Guide To Marital Trusts”

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